Wednesday, 16 October 2013

...Then There Were Two...

Last week I posted about the 40th anniversary of the launch of LBC (London Broadcasting), Britain's first Independent Local Radio station, on Monday October 8th 1973.

Just over a week later, at 5.00am on Tuesday October 16th, London's other new ILR station began broadcasting. Here is the opening in all its glory, complete with Richard Attenborough, the National Anthem (arranged by Malcolm Arnold and performed by the Royal Choral Society and the London Philharmonic Orchestra) and George Martin's wonderful station theme. (Sad admission - 40 years on I still love the piccolo trumpets on it. Very Penny Lane).

Another slice of British broadcasting history.
Capital Radio Tuesday October 16th 1973

Here are the programme proposals from Capital's original franchise application submitted to the Independent Broadcasting Authority in December 1972. How very different things were back in those early days.

In those days only the winning applicant's programme proposals were made public - and not until after the station had begun broadcasting. The rest of the application - as well as all of the unsuccessful ones - remained confidential.

(It's scanned from the original document and, as a result of its age, the quality isn't brilliant).

Also here's 'Capital Radio Calling', the 4-page promotional "newspaper" published as part of the station's launch marketing:

You can find the full-size versions at:

As well as my many years with LBC I was also fortunate to spend three years at Capital in the early-90s.

Capital's original home was in Euston Tower; at the time one of London's tallest buildings. Located on the busy Euston Road by the underpass, and opposite Warren Street tube station, Capital’s presence helped make it a recognisable landmark.

Although many presenters claimed to be broadcasting “from the top of the Euston Tower” using radio's great ability for 'theatre of the mind' the reality was that Capital occupied much of the ground and first-floors.

Capital had its own fairly spacious entrance foyer, with a sweeping curved staircase reminiscent of something out of a ‘Busby Berkeley’ Hollywood musical, leading up to the first floor. Showbiz!

Originally everything, apart from the foyer, had been on the first floor but as the station had grown over the years it began to acquire much of the ground floor. The Sales department even had to move into another building nearby. 

The basic layout had put all of the studios and other technical areas in the central core of the building, with the main corridor around them and the various offices on the outside of the building. This meant none of the studios had any natural daylight and presenters could not see outside. Studio C, which was Capital Gold’s main studio during my time there, did have a window on the main corridor.

The Music department, where I worked, was on the ground floor. To get there, though, you still had to go up the staircase from the foyer, along the corridor, turn left just by Studio C and then go down another staircase. News and Talks, also on the ground floor on the opposite site of the building, could only be accessed from another stairway off the main corridor. It was quite a rabbit warren in places. You also had to go through News and Talks  to reach Studio 7, the multi-track recording studio.

Incidentally, the Music department offices are now a branch of Pret a Manger, while Sainsbury's occupy the former News and Talks area.

While at Capital I got to work with some great broadcasters - especially some who had been my "radio heroes" when I was younger; Kenny Everett, Fluff and Tony Blackburn. My time there was a part of my life I shall cherish forever.

Happy 40th Birthday, Capital.

Finally a couple of photos from my personal collection:

It's not every day that you get to meet two of the Beach Boys - especially when you're a fan. They were in London to do a few nights at Wembley arena and Mike and Bruce came in to record an interview and some 'Stories Behind The Songs' with Mike Read on Capital Gold. 
L-R: Bruce Johnston, Suzanne Montague (Capital), Mike Love, Me. Seated are two people from the record company's promotion department.

When I left Capital at the end of September 1994 my leaving party upstairs at a local pub was well-attended and a great time was had by all (even if I do look a bit glum in this photo).
L-R: Charlotte George (Producer), Mike Read, Me, 'Diddy' David Hamilton, Tony Blackburn.